How to Get Your Boys to Do Chores

The idea of their son volunteering and pitching in with chores may cause some parents to weep for joy, but getting your son to contribute to the household should not be a horrible chore in itself.  In fact, chores can really help boost your son’s confidence, fulfill their need to be needed, and teach them to respect their own, as well as other people’s, time and effort.

One key to get everyone to help (as happily as possible) is how you present the idea of chores.  If you, as parents, complain and grumble, your son will follow suit with this same attitude.  Instead, try and maintain an upbeat attitude and use music or games to make chores as enjoyable as possible.  It’s also a good idea to start at a young age.  Let your son follow you around while you do chores – maybe even let him fold/play with a towel while you do laundry, and it would be a fun time for him to imitate and interact with you.  Seeing you do chores will also instill in him the understanding that chores are not impositions, but necessary in maintaining a comfortable home.

Getting started: Nobody likes to be taken for granted, so if your family decides to assign chores make sure there is a reward.  Rewards can be anything from a praise to allowances and chore charts*, this has to be determined by what works for your family and how old your son is. [Read more…]

How to Design Your Nursery

One of the added perks of expecting a new member of the family is designing that very precious nursery. For me, that was really fun! During my visit with Corey Goellner, owner of Goodnite Rooms, she shared the latest trends in nursery design.

Makes me want to do it all over again! Well, the nursery… not so much the pregnancy/baby part! 😉 [Read more…]

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

As the mom of 10 children, with 8 still at home, you might imagine, that we do a bunch of laundry! Since we moved to west Texas to start a vineyard and have learned more creative ways to live frugally, I wanted to share my homemade laundry detergent recipe. I thought it might be beneficial for those of you looking for an economical alternative to store bought detergents.

I have found the following recipe to be less expensive to make than the cheapest detergent I can purchase. An added bonus is,  that it cleans better! My husband, being a chemist in his former life, says it is the borax in the recipe which causes it to clean so thouroughly. Borax is a whitening agent which may be used to brighten your laundry.

This recipe may also be made with unscented soap for those who might have sensitive skin.

It is tempting to use more than the 2 Tbs. per load of laundry which is called for in this recipe. In this case though, more is not better, it is just a waste. I was skeptical and started with more but found that decreasing it with each load, 2 Tbs. really does clean our clothes very well.

Homemade Laundry Detergent


Small Batch:

1 c grated bar soap (I have used Safeguard and Dial Soap but any will work)
1/2 c Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1/2 c 20 Mule Team Borax
Grate soap in food processor.
Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.
Use 2 Tbs. per load.

Large Batch:

12 bars soap- grated
1 box borax
2 boxes Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda)
Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.
Use 2 Tbs. per load

I use an old plastic scoop in the airtight container on which I have marked a fill line for the children. Like me, they think more is better!

by Expert MommyDina-Marie Oswald

How to Live Frugally, Part 2

Last week, Dina-Marie shared 20 tips on how to live frugally. She has 22 more….

1. Do not window shop in front of the refrigerator – Determine what you want to remove ahead of time to avoid unnecessary time spent with the fridge door open.
2. Wash your clothes when they are dirty – This may be after one wearing, but then again, maybe not until several wearings.
3. Hang your clothes out to dry – Save energy and get that fresh, line-dry smell in the summer.  In the winter, use a drying rack inside to help humidify your house, which is healthier and feels warmer!
4. Make your own laundry detergent – Homemade laundry detergent is easy and economical.
5. Use cloth diapers instead of disposable – They are both economical and “green.” [Read more…]

How to Survive Having Your House Painted

We live on a block of several old Victorian houses. Typically we are a DIY couple, capable of small electric and modest plumbing repairs. But last spring we needed a new paint job, new porch railings, new gutters and new balcony spindles. We decided it was best for the house (and marriage) if we contracted this work out.

A Contractor’s Market

There’s a contractor named Frank who’s a regular fixture on our street. He’s a wizard at carpentry, plumbing and painting. His yard sign basically moves from one house to the next, as most old Victorians need work – lots of work. [Read more…]

How To Live Frugally

Since our family’s move from the “secure” life in Alabama (job with a monthly paycheck) to the “exciting” life in west Texas to start a vineyard (no paycheck at all !), I have learned even more ways to be frugal.

I have always tended toward frugality, but watching our savings dwindle as we have payed for land, vines, trellising and other vineyard related items, and the rest going quickly for living expenses, I have had to take a crash course in frugality. Each of these actions individually may seem insignificant, but their cumulative effect over time has added up to big savings. [Read more…]

How to Make the Most Out of Errand-Running Time

How many times have you gone to the grocery store and bought everything except for what you really went there for? How about that list of errands and forgetting the videos to return or the dry cleaning for drop off? How do I know all of this? Because I have done it myself more times than I care to admit. We are only human you know, and suffer from “Mommy brain” as well. That is best excuse I can come up with and a rightful one at that.  It is frustrating especially when you have kids that errand time is down to the wire and the window is small. How can we make the most out of errand running time? What can be done so you can get the bang for the buck so to speak? Here are a few ideas that will help you even have time for coffee.

  1. Always, always make a list of where you need to go. Start with the furthest distance stop and work you way back to home base. Keep your “to do” lists in the same note book and that way you can go back and see what there wasn’t time for or things that need to be remembered for next time.
  2. Begin gathering when the thought of running errands enters your mind. If you start thinking the night before “I got to get out the door early to get all this done before the morning nap or lunch.” Start grabbing those library books, videos, and dry cleaning as you think of them. Even snacks for the car. Don’t wait until later because you never know when “Mommy brain” is going to sneak up on you.
  3. Create an errand running drop zone by the door you leave out of.  A basket or open container is great to stick in your front seat so you can visually see all that needs to be done. If it doesn’t get accomplished that time, leave it in the bin for your next run.

That’s it! It’s as simple as 1 2 3. Errand running can be daunting, but with a few tasks ahead of time it can go smoothly until Jr throws up or Katie gets gum stuck in her hair. It happens to the best of us, we keep moving forward because that’s what Moms do.

Expert Mommy, Julie Verleger

26 Weeks: The Nursery

nursery inspiration picThis seems like the perfect time to begin thinking about how we are going to decorate our nursery for the twins. I am psyched for that this go around it need not be “unisex” as it has the two times I’ve “done” a nursery room in the past, not knowing the sex of our babies before they were born. I know what we are having: a boy and a girl. So though I will not go all pink or race cars, I can confidently move into a design that makes sense for both.

We are two weeks from being in the third trimester. “RBE” or Rapid Belly Expansion [Read more…]